The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has given the Federal Government of Nigeria 72 hours to pull away from what it said is the toxic and enslaving loan agreement with China, which threatens the country’s sovereignty.
HURIWA in a statement issued on Saturday by its National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, noted that Nigeria has obtained 17 Chinese loans to fund different categories of capital projects, and will continue to service the loans till around 2038, which is the maturity date for the last loans obtained in 2018.
The group lamented and also condemned what it described as the new form of economic colonialism foisted by China and occasioned by toxic and enslaving loan agreements with Nigeria.
It noted that since all Chinese loans are tied to infrastructural developments, some of the African nations have had to forfeit their stakes in the infrastructure, which they used as collateral after they defaulted.
“One of the most cited examples of alleged debt-trap diplomacy by China is a loan given to the Sri Lankan Government by the Exim Bank of China to build the Magampura Mahinda Rajapaksa Port and Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport,” HURIWA said.
The group noted that when it comes to loans, Nigeria has failed to implement the three factors in its engagement with the Chinese.
“What it means is that we lack the ability and we don’t have the headroom anymore to repay because our independent revenue has been strangulated by our enormous debt hanging over the Federal Government as it stands now,” it said.
“Out of 64 countries that host the Chinese Belt and Road initiative projects, 20 have gone under distress and 8 are about to lose their sovereign debt sustainability if they should take any further loan. If that was supposed to be a good guide, it means Nigeria needs to be very careful with this type of loan contract which threatens our sovereignty.”
HURIWA noted that already, a quarter of Nigeria’s N10.3 trillion (proposed) 2020 budget, that is N2.5 trillion, goes to debt servicing. The budget is still being considered by federal lawmakers.
“This chain barely allows cash to get into the hands of the recipients; rather, the loans are offered in the form of projects.
“Most of the funds given out actually go back to them by way of supplies, construction contracts with all the equipment brought over from China itself.
“Therefore, we are by this Statement demanding that the Nigerian Government should within the next 72 hours pull away from the toxic and enslaving loan agreement with China, which threatens our sovereignty.
“Failure to do so, in our capacity as a prominent Civil Rights Advocacy Group and in a bid to advance the single agenda of building a formidable and economically strong united Nigeria in general and the future of our youths in particular, we will mobilize civil rights advocacy groups in Nigeria to challenge this new form of economic colonialism foisted by China and signed off by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration in court.
“Additionally, we shall write to the United Nations and China to dissociate the entire youths from such a thievery being arranged by the APC led Federal Executive Council of Nigeria, as well as consider protests to the Embassy of China in Abuja if the enslaving loan agreement is not discontinued.
“Similarly, we call on the United Nations to conduct plebiscite on the loan request while warning that if the loans are received and the clause on forfeiture of sovereignty is not legally voided, then it will motivate millions of Nigerians to begin Self Determination agitation or the dissolution of Nigeria.
“We blame President Muhammadu Buhari for attempting to foist a situation whereby most Nigerians will not be able to opt-out of the Future and slave labour camp of China, which is what the loan agreement is all about. A stitch in times saves nine,” the group concluded.
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